UK Ponders Response to Ebola Crisis


While the United Kingdom has been fortunate to avoid Ebola infection from reaching its shores, there are increasing concerns that the government’s current protocols against the epidemic’s spread may be inadequate. This has been heightened since the death of UK citizen Colin Jaffray, aged 58, in Macedonia this last week of an infection that was reportedly Ebola. Jaffray, a UK citizen and businessman, had not traveled to any of the African countries where the virus is currently rampaging. He had died less than two hours after being admitted to a state hospital in the Macedonian city of Skopje. Jaffray had allegedly told his physicians shortly before his death that he believed he had contracted Ebola somewhere in the United Kingdom.

This story is contradicted by Mike English, who had been traveling with Jaffray before his death. English claims that Jaffray, who was in extreme pain, had been trying to lighten the mood when he stated he had Ebola. English claims that Jaffray had a dry wit, and that the healthcare workers at the hospital in Skopje had misunderstood his attempt at humor and believed that he had been serious when he claimed that he had Ebola. English is one of 27 other guests of the hotel where Jaffray spent his last days who have been quarantined by the Macedonian government.

Health officials in Macedonia have noted that Jaffray’s symptoms match those of Ebola and that until they have confirmation that he was not infected from blood tests that they will continue to respond to the case as if it was a sure case of infection. Olga English, the wife of Mike English, has also released a statement that Jaffray had been in ill health for several years, but had not sought medical care until the staff at the hotel in Macedonia called an ambulance.

The United Kingdom has also begun to screen passengers at some international airports and Eurostar terminals for potential Ebola infection as a response to Jaffray’s death. British authorities also noted that it was very unlikely that Jaffray had actually contracted Ebola, but that precautions must be taken to prevent its potential spread. If Jaffray had died due to Ebola, he would have had to have been exposed to the infection in the United Kingdom. This week also marked the first case of Ebola infection that occurred out of West Africa as a Spanish nurse who had treated an Ebola patient contracted the disease.

Some in the United Kingdom has criticized these measures as ineffective. Conservative MP Rory Stewart released a statement claiming that limited screenings will not be effective. Others have noted that health authorities in the United Kingdom claimed that no screening procedures were being considered as late as Thursday and that it is not clear how the threat of Ebola has changed. Some healthcare observers also have made claims that these screening procedures, such as questionnaires and temperature checks, are ineffective. Many have alleged that these changed are merely cosmetic, meant to assure an uneasy populace that they are safe without actually ensuring their greater safety.


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